Borderland Rotary recently welcomed Rob Williams from Cambrian Heritage Railway to hear how a local transport options appraisal has stated that “Rail is Right” for Oswestry.  Also, the first year of operations from Oswestry to Weston Wharf as a heritage line had been a great success and this is really good news and a harbinger of greater things to come.

Rob said, “We have two principal aims, firstly to create and run a heritage railway to bring tourists and prosperity to the town, secondly, we are looking at starting a community rail service for commuters which, of course, is dependent on crossing in some form the main A5 road near the Orthopaedic Hospital. The first-phase (Oswestry to Weston Wharf) of the heritage project has gone reasonably well as we enjoyed a really successful first full year of operations with about 12,000 passenger journeys which made the service commercially viable. We now plan to build on this by running all manner of new and exciting services for schools, interest groups and developing a wider range of special events – but we won’t be losing old favourites such as the Friday and Saturday ‘Brewery Express’ evening services.

The heritage railway has the advantage that Stonehouse Brewery set up their factory, bar and restaurant adjacent to the station at Weston Wharf and are now enjoying a pleasant symbiotic relationship which suits everyone.

Rob continued, “We’ll be alternating steam and diesel services and repeating the successful format of 2022. Steam however is becoming extremely expensive to operate, as well as time consuming, the price of coal has gone through the roof – there’s not much being produced and a lot of it used to come from Russia – obviously, not possible anymore. Despite the overhead pressures, pricing for the heritage service will remain broadly unaltered. We feel that the railway has reminded people of their heritage and has a very broad appeal”.

Pictured (left to right): Rob Williams and Chris Bryan-Smith.